Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 4-2 loss to the Calgary Flames on Thursday night, dropping the Leafs’ record to 15-14-3 on the season.
On the team’s collapse at the start of the third period:
We didn’t really get a chance to get started in the period at all. We lose the faceoff and we get a first touch on it in our zone, and they end up getting it back and it’s in our net. The start isn’t great, but I guess the recovery after that — it compounded itself. That’s what we’d like to have back. Obviously, it’s not the way we wanted it to go.
That third period — the game works in funny ways. You look at the game the other night and what we gave up in the third period, and Freddy was there for us and we got out of that game clean. In the second period here today, I thought we got out of that period clean again when we probably didn’t deserve to. We score a goal and give ourselves a lead and a chance to go into the third with a chance to redeem ourselves and take care of it. It doesn’t go our way right from the start.
As I said, I think the game works in funny ways and teaches you lessons along the way. It’s just another sign that we’ve got a long way to go as a group.
On whether it was the Vancouver blunders they got away with coming home to roost:
Not in the first five minutes of the third. I thought in the second period it was. I thought in the third period, we just didn’t get a chance to get started and all of a sudden they’re coming and we haven’t even found our footing in the period yet. There are things we can definitely do differently and better in those sports, but the second period, I thought, was more similar to some of the issues we had in Vancouver.
On whether he addressed the team after the game:
No, I didn’t.
On whether the defensive mistakes are mental or structural:
I think it is both. It is both in terms of the first mistake is the structure piece and the next mistake is the mental piece because now, instead of just keeping our composure and staying in our structure, you are running around and trying to recover. It compounds the problem. It is a little bit of both there, for sure.
The other part of it is we just didn’t have a lot of guys that had great days today. We had one line that was outstanding. After that, I think it was pretty hard to find a guy that had a good day today.
On whether he saw anything he liked with the new line combinations:
It’s hard to judge the lines. It is easy to say that the lines weren’t good today because of how they didn’t play, but it is hard to judge because none of the individuals had good games through the other lines or through all six defense. As I said, the game works in funny ways. Things usually even themselves out over time. It is easier for us to teach and coach in spots like this than it is the other night when we get away with it. We can regroup tomorrow and get a chance to finish this road trip off with a positive.
On where the team was at mentally heading into the third:
I don’t think the mentality changed. I thought we had a good intermission and were ready to get going. Before you know it, the puck is in the net. Now they’re coming and the crowd is going. I thought it was the second period where we just didn’t deserve to come out of it up a goal. We were trying to regroup ourselves and go out and have a good period and redeem ourselves over the third period we had in Vancouver, and we didn’t give ourselves a chance to do that.
On whether ten games under his coaching is enough to get the message across:
I would think that it is in terms of the message, but I still think we have a long way to go in terms of structure and habits and those types of things. Those are the types of things that are going to take more time. I think the message is there and in the conversations we’re having with the guys, they’re understanding. The chance to go out and execute it is a whole other thing.
And then there is the whole defensive side of it when things go bad and how you handle those situations. That is the stuff that takes significantly more time.